From memories of Phyliss Fletcher, nee Eley we have been able to learn much about her husband's side, the Fletchers and her parents side, the Eleys and the Kirbys. She recalls memories of her Father Louis Eley and his wife Margaret who's maiden name was Kirby.
Before she was married, Phyllis was living with brother Derek and her parents at 20 York Street Derby. Her father Louis Eley other than he was born in 1872 to parents John Eley, a slater born 1835 in Derby and Fanny born in nearby Tutbury. Louis was a painter and decorator. He died aged 57 in 1929. The name Eley are known to be common to the Derby area. Louis Eley was a keen painter and was presented with a silver knobbed walking stick as a prize for one painting. He was later commissioned by a lady to paint a picture depicting the runaway marriage of a Lady Dorothy Vernon from Hadden Hall at North Cliff House Derby.
More is known about Margaret after whom Phyllis named her first daughter. She was born in Norwich on 21st August 1879, the daughter of Frances Methias Kirby and his wife Margaret whom we shall meet later. It is reported that she moved to Broad Street Welshpool were she became a teacher and dressmaker. The love of her life was a Dr Parry Jones whom she may have wished to marry but as the consequence of an argument over another woman, a nurse, Margaret and her family left Welshpool for Derby which led her in the direction of Louis. They had two children Phyllis and a son known to be called Louis Francis after his father. This presents many problems when discussing events as to which Louis the conversation refers. Louis, the brother of Phyllis was in the Seaforth Highlanders.
A strange tale is that Louis claimed when he died he would rattle the tea cups to prove there was an after life. Reports were made that curtains moved which scared everyone present, but no cups rattled.
Louis junior went on to marry Mildred (Millie) Snook and they too had two children, Derek and Beatrice Francis (AKA Betty or Cissy). Derek married Jean and had two children Adrien and Clive. Betty had two childrern, David and Valerie from her first marriage but after her husband died she married Eric Rowe on 27 Sep 1967 and they had a son Christopher. After Louis senior died Margaret it is believed to have returned to her Dr Parry Jones but sadly he too died shortly after the reunion. Margaret lived on in Derby until 1968 and died in the Manor hospital.
Lawrence Eley Louis Frances Eley
Margaret Eley (nee Kirby) may have been one of many children born to Frances Methias Kirby and Margaret Kirby (nee Slowie). Such names as Francis, Thomas Augustus, Lawrence Ignatius, James, Victor Matthew, Rachel (who died young), Lillian Augusta (who may have married a Mr England), Anne and Beatrice Francis have all been liked to this family. It is difficult to know where best to start this intriguing side of the story. Frances Methias Kirby was believed to be the son of a Reverend Edward (or possibly Matthew) Kirby, thought to be the vicar of Wrexham. The Reverend Kirby was an imposing gentleman who would be seen walking about his parish wearing a flat clerical cap, gaiters and a long frock cloak. He had a beard and must have been an imposing even daunting gent. Frances Methias was born in Wrexham in 1847, one of three children of Edward and Mary Anne. A census record however shows a Methias Kirby born at the same time in Maidstone Kent which conflicts with the oral record. This may be the correct name since he was reported to be married to Margaret from Ireland. The other children were Victoria and Rachel but were these the names who figured in the later generation?
The Reverend Kirby died and Mary Anne remarried. She is known to have died in Derby giving a very early family link to the city. Francis Methias is an interesting character with a strong military background. He was believed to be a cavalry man who in later life became a fencing instructor. As a military man or a soldier of fortune, he would have travelled to Ireland and it was there that he met Margaret Slowie, some 7 years younger, a young Catholic lass, an only child, who was born in Longford, Eire, just North West of Dublin. She may have had her first child, Mary Ann in 1875, before she married and ran away from home to follow her cavalry man husband. It is also told that her disapproving parents cut her off for wanting to marry a soldier. The story goes on that after the birth of her second child, James F in Dublin in 1876 that she was sent away with a maid and a carriage. Methias and Margaret then moved to Norwich where Margaret, the mother of Phyllis, was born in 1878. This confirms the oral evidence and hence corroborates the Irish family connections. Two further children are recorded on the 1881 census, Victoria born in Brighton and Methias born in York just three months before the census. Victoria died at the youthful age of 30.
Just those three months later when the 1881 census was taken, the family were found to be living at New Cottage, Berriew, Montgomerry near Welshpool (a place near where Derek and his son now live) again corroborating the evidence that Phyllis' mother Margaret moved from Welshpool to Derby. Methias was not only an interesting character as a cavalry man and fencing instructor, he was very different to the other sides of the family in that he appears to have travelled widely and moved home frequently. At the age of 34 with a 27 year old wife he had 5 children born in very different locations. Oral evidence also indicates that he was the squire of the village in Welshpool.
Family records then indicate that they may have gone on to have a further 5 children. The first was Lillian Augusta or Aunt Lilly after whom Margaret Collier gained her middle name. Lillian was reported to have beautiful blond wavy hair. Next was Beatrice Francis known as Cissy, Victor Ignatius and Thomas Augustus Michael, known as Uncle Gus. One piece of oral evidence recounts that he was drowned at sea during World War 1 whilst another that he returned from the war and died peacefully much later, maybe in Derby. After came Lawrence Ignatius whose birth date is unknown but must have been around the start of the 20th century. He like his father was a military man in a cavalry division. As a Major he saw service in World War 2 at the Siege of Tabruck where he gained an OBE.
No really strong evidence has been found of Methias' parents especially a confirmation that he was vicar of Wrexham. Records of a William and Mary have been found for the Deptford area of London, near Greenwich but at the age of 70 and a widower means that he may have been retired. He was living with a Mary Anne Masten and her children Herbert, Sydney and Fredrick at Grace Cottage, Garden Row, Deptford. More documentary evidence from earlier times will be required if this side of the tree is to be better understood.
A census record however shows a Methias A Kirby born at the same time in Maidstone Kent which conflicts with the oral record. This may be the correct name since he was reported in the census to be married to Margaret from Ireland. The other children were Victoria and Rachel but were these the names who figured in the later generation? Search for the Maidstone connection shows up an interesting set of Kirby names (Matthew, Edward, William and a widow Jane A born in Derby. The Kirbys were all born in Maidstone around the middle of the nineteenth century. Another Kirrby connection may be from a Matthew Kirby of Flamborough, Yorkshire.
I would be interested to learn from anyone who has knowledge of Kirby's from Maidstone Kent, or even Norwich (Bawburgh), Yorkshire or Derby.
It was interesting to dicover another Kirby family living at Bawburgh near Norwich. The father was born in Maidstone in 1837 so I would assume he was the older brother of Methias. Matthew, like the Edward and William still living in Kent, possibly also brothers, were all working in the paper trade. In family records there exists a Christmas carol written by a Matthew Kirby dated 1879. Could this have been the Matthew in our census and was there a connection with a vicar. On presenting this information to family members the story changed to a Matthew Kirby who was vicar of a church in Norwich.The First Christmas
In a stable, mean and lowly,
On a crib where oxen fed,
Laid the Infant Jesus holy,
Nowhere else to lay that head;
Angels, bringing peace to all,
And adore Emmanuel.
Shepherds watch their flock in keeping
From the dangers of the nigh,
Numbers of mankind are sleeping;
Angels rouse, but not to fright:
Tidings of great joy they bring
To the world, Gods praises sing.
For the birth of mans Great saviour
Was a theme of joy for them;
They did praise with ardent fervour,
"Glory be to God! Amen"
We would join our praise with them
And adore King Jesus Name.
And as each swift year so fleeting
Passes by a link of time,
And good-will to men were greeting.
When the merry bells do chime,
May we each recall the theme,
Godhead born in Bethlehem.
Family evidence suggests that Matthias and Margaret may have finally settled in Derby at the Bird Innon the corner of Jury Street where he was the landlord. A strong military man he gained a reputation for quelling any drunken disturbances without the need of any police, a method which gained him the nickname "throttle-'em". and after Margaret died, apparently in the street outside the Bird pub in 1904, Matthias may have moved to the nearby White Lion Inn. The story goes that the shops which now occupy the site on the corner of Ashborne Road and Brick St are haunted and residents do not staythere long. Other related Kirbys are also believed to have been in the hostelry trade in Derby with possible links to the Arboretum Hotel on the Osmaston Road.. The landlord there reputedly left a fortune of £90,000 to his girlfriend when he died.
The author of this site would love to hear from anyone reading about the Kirbys or Eleys who may have information to share.